Chuck Wing, Deseret News
DRAPER — What started as "unintelligible radio communication" from an officer turned into a citywide crime scene Sunday with the officer dead, a woman shot and injured, and the man suspected of orchestrating the shootings in critical condition after turning a gun on himself.
Draper Police Sgt. Derek Johnson, 32, was pulled from his mangled police vehicle on Fort Street shortly after 6 a.m. with gunshot wounds that proved fatal. He was pronounced dead shortly after being flown to Intermountain Medical Center, leaving a wife, child, other family members and a grief-stricken law enforcement community in search of comfort and answers.
“We are here under the most tragic of circumstances,” Draper Police Chief Bryan Roberts announced as he confirmed the death of Johnson Sunday morning. He later described the events that would shut down much of Draper for the day and leave the city suffering its first loss of an officer.
Johnson came across a silver Volvo that was parked in an unusual position on 132 South Fort Street shortly before 6 a.m. A man, 35, and a woman, 34, were with the car when Johnson stopped to investigate, Roberts said.
“As Sgt. Johnson approached the couple in his vehicle, the man ambushed him and began firing at Sgt. Johnson,” Roberts said.
Johnson was hit by a bullet and drove down the street as the suspect continued to fire at him. Johnson’s car ran off the road and hit a tree about three blocks north on Fort Street.
Johnson never left his vehicle nor did he return fire.
Before the shooting, the man and woman were in a hit and run accident, striking objects along 900 East and 13800 South, police later learned. Investigators believe the man shot the woman at some point and after shooting Johnson, the man shot himself. One gun was found at the scene.
Police believe the woman involved was a victim of this crime.
Police would not release the identity of the man or the woman. Both remained in critical condition at a local hospital Sunday night.
"It was five continual shots. Bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam," said Brian Pollick, who said he was awakened by the sound just before 6 a.m. He said he saw police lights about four minutes later, at Fort Street and 13200 South.
Kris Szelag said she was awakened by the sound of a gun shot and then a crashing noise. A registered nurse, Szelag said she rushed outside to see if she could help.
She said a police car had crashed in the field across the street from her house. She then witnessed an officer being pulled out of his car. Emergency personnel began CPR and the officer, later identified as Johnson, was taken by an ambulance to a medical helicopter down the road, she said.
One of her neighbors told her that he awoke to a SWAT team surrounding his barn as the quiet of an early Sunday summer morning erupted into police activity.
"Adrenaline was pretty high," Szelag said.
Police poured into the area, with units from Utah Highway Patrol, South Jordan, Sandy, Midvale, Utah Transit Authority and the Orem team assisting in the investigation and an initial search for suspects connected to the shooting. A canine team from Orem and a Department of Public Safety helicopter joined in the search while the area remained locked down.
"It was just mass confusion after that. Just officers every place. I've never seen so many officers on scene," Szelag said.
The Draper neighborhood of high-end homes was contained within a police perimeter that stretched for 14 blocks from north to south and 10 blocks from east to west. A crime scene that spanned up to six blocks remained under investigation Sunday evening.
- Man killed in avalanche had a passion for...
- Local religious leaders urge support for...
- Cities, state battle panhandling through the...
- Dog lovers walk to support anti-bias measure
- About Utah: All the mac and cheese they can eat
- The story of a fish, a river and what's ahead...
- Body of man, 51, discovered outside Cedar City
- Family of BYU student hit by car say they are...
- Advocates rally and 'roar' for... 56
- Utah Democrats offer full Medicaid... 32
- Gov. Herbert threatens veto of House... 31
- Judge: Biological father will share... 28
- The story of a fish, a river and what's... 24
- Cities, state battle panhandling... 21
- Local religious leaders urge support... 20
- Utah unemployment rate hits five-year low 11